New York City’s Many Fire Trap Apartments

The cold fact is New York City is failing to protect its citizens.  A recent fire ended in tragedy and has helped expose some of the nastier habits of city inspectors.  While the practice of illegal conversions is getting some play in the press, another deadly hazard is not: The combination of gas stoves and insufficient heat.  My first apartment in NYC had almost no heat in the winter.  Exploring on HPD’s site allowed me to see violations and complaints for the past few years.  Every winter – heating issues.  The situation played out the same each time:

  1.  I’d call the city
  2. The city would call the super
  3. The super would pump up the heat
  4. The city would send an inspector
  5. The inspector would find nothing wrong

The first time the inspector came by, the super hadn’t reacted fast enough, and we both confirmed a violation.  Additionally, the inspector informed me the wall by the door to the apartment had been illegally setup, and was a fire hazard.  Subsequent calls to the city revealed no violation had been recorded, and each subsequent visit by an inspector went through the above steps.  Eventually I broke my lease and moved out.  However some of the older residents did not have that luxury – and remain.

I spoke to one such resident – who had been in the apartment for over 20 years (and hence was paying an extremely low rent).  She mentioned the heat issue had been going on every single winter she had spent at the property.  She compensated by turning on her oven and opening the door.  In addition to creating a Carbon Monoxide hazard, a gas oven is an especially problematic source of heat for an apartment.  My former neighbor was convinced the New York Housing Department was corrupt.

As far as I know, the apartment still has heating issues.  Visits to HPD’s site to check up on the property now return NO violations or complaints for the past few years – which I know to be false having provided a few of those complaints myself.  Whether this is the result of corruption, malfeasance, or incompetence the end result is same: New Yorkers needlessly suffering and needlessly at risk.

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Gov Chris Christie’s Real Impact

People like Chris Wallace damage whatever credibility they have left when they shill for the likes of Chris Christie:

He loves bullying state and union workers around during town halls while canceling a major tunnel project that would have meant many jobs for NJ. The Teachers Union is in line this time for his authoritarian act. He loved to tell this teacher that if she didn’t like his merit pay idea it she could stop teaching. And the Tea Party loves him because of this.Already the merit pay scheme has been discredited. Education experts say Gov. Christie’s teacher merit pay can do more harm than good for students

Christie and NJ are in crisis and he hasn’t fixed a thing there yet except making job cuts and refusing tunnel projects. He’s also didn’t distinguish himself with his latest showing of arrogance when he stayed on a Florida vacation instead of helping NJ when the snow came. Rudy Giuliani blasted him for it.

It gets better, as his budget policies are about to land one of America’s most crime ridden cities a deadly blow: the loss of a significant chunk of its police force.  They mayor is blaming the unions:

Redd blamed the public safety employee cuts on their unions, saying they have not been willing to make job-saving concessions or accept the reality that the state government will no longer bail out the city as it has for the past two generations.

In Redd’s mind (and the incredibly slanted article by Geoff Mulvihill of the AP) it is the fault of the unions, not the state.  But look at the situation these cuts are going to create.  Who is going to want to work in one of the most dangerous, high stress job environments in the country for a fraction of the pay you could enjoy working as a police officer anywhere else in the state, nevermind the country?

It is Governor Christie’s lack of leadership – his inability to let the citizens of New Jersey pay for the essentials of civilization – that is creating these crisis in his state.  It isn’t that he isn’t experienced enough to lead – his radical right wing policies render him unfit to lead this country.

The Hard Work of Change

Thank You, President Obama, for your commitment to represent young voters.

We are the future of this country, and together, we are ready to do the hard work to make this country stronger, safer, and more just for everyone.

Researchers Still Studying Virginity Pledges

Its 2008, and somewhere out there a researcher is thinking:

“By Golly, I wonder if virginity pledges work?  Better start another study.”

We could deprive teenagers of all but 4 hours a day for sleep, remove their sense of sight, and send them to school in chastity contraptions that would make Houdini shudder, and they’d still find a way to have sex.  The sooner we start from reality rather than a fantasy fueled by a fervent desire for “purity” amongst the young, the faster we’ll be able to ensure teens have healthy, safe sex.

the results, published in the journal Pediatrics, suggest that virginity pledgers are less likely to protect themselves against pregnancy or disease when they do have sex.

This is directly in line with studies on the various forms of abstinence education.  I’m sure a similar study on kids who attend “chastity balls” with their parents would yield the same results.  We get it.  The point has been made and proved.  Additional studies won’t be worth a damn against the religious right, who will continue championing the ideal of purity at the expense of teenage sexual health no matter what kind of research comes out.